Frequently Asked Questions

  Many people have questions about what Osteopathy is, how well it is recognised by other health professionals such as doctors, and what Osteopaths actually treat.

Hopefully the following FAQs and information will help you, but if you would like to discuss anything in more detail, or if you have any questions of your own, please feel free to contact us at any time. We'll be more than happy to help.


1. How recognised is Osteopathy?

Osteopaths are considered to be 'mainstream' healthcare professionals as osteopathy underwent statutory regulation after the Osteopaths Act of 1993. This guarantees you the equivalent high level of protection that you have when you visit your doctor or your dentist.

2. What about my doctor?

Since regulation by Parliament, osteopathic treatment has been fully recognised by the medical profession. Many people are being referred to the Edinburgh Osteopathic Surgery by their GP. As with dentistry, it is not necessary to see your doctor before consulting an osteopath, although if you are still unsure, have a word with your doctor first.

3. What do Osteopaths Treat?

The following are just a few of the many conditions that can be successfully treated by your osteopath.

Back Pain

This is the most common complaint treated by our osteopaths at the Edinburgh Osteopathic Surgery affecting as it does 4 out of 5 people at some time in their many cases back pain is related to the structural components and muscles in the back. Most cases, although very painful, are not serious if managed properly.


This word refers to pain originating from the sciatic nerve that forms from branches in the lower back and supplies the leg. The term 'sciatica' is not really a true diagnosis. It is often used to describe pain in the leg whatever the cause; whether it is related to circulation, pain referred from a back problem, from a trauma or from a nerve irritation. Osteopaths are trained to establish the true cause of the problem and the most common causes of sciatica can usually be successfully treated here.


There are various types of headaches but osteopaths can often successfully help some of the more common ones. Sometimes there are associated upper back, neck or shoulder problems which can respond well to osteopathic treatment. In addition, a certain type of dizziness can respond very well to a special gentle procedure.

'Computer Hump'

Hours spent sitting in one position can commonly cause problems for the upper back and neck, and can occasionally lead to a 'pinched nerve' that gives pain into your arm as well. These problems normally respond well to osteopathic treatment.


The most common type of arthritis called osteoarthritis is a process usually, but not always, associated with ageing. Osteopathic treatment cannot reverse the 'wear and tear' changes to a joint surface but in many cases can offer relief from pain. We can also give advice on aspects such as exercise and good management which may help in providing you with longer term relief.

Sports Injuries

Osteopathic treatment can benefit sports men and women at all levels. If you are eager to get back to your sport after injury, or have a problem which is preventing you from performing at your best, osteopathic treatment can help you reach your peak level of fitness.


Pregnancy can cause back pain and discomfort partly because of changes in posture. Many women have found gentle treatment before during and after pregnancy can ease symptoms. Most are keen to minimise the use of medication during pregnancy so osteopathic treatment can help in that respect.

4. Should I worry that I can't tell my osteopath exactly what caused my pain?

It is very common for people not to know exactly what caused their pain, if indeed anything did! Despite this it is still possible for your osteopath, after talking to you and examining you, to be confident about what is going on.

5. Does stress contribute to my pain?

There is no doubt that pain can be sensitive to both physical and mental stress, or to our emotional state, but that certainly doesn't mean that the pain isn't genuine.

Conversely, pain can sometimes lead to increased stress or anxiety as it can give rise to a number of worries, perhaps about its cause or how long it might take to get better. People might also have concerns about whether it's going to impede their ability to work, to take part in sport and activities or to care for others effectively.

Being anxious about your pain is understandable and normal. Because your osteopath makes use of a 'person-centred' approach, they are able to support you with an appropriate individual management and treatment plan.

6. Will the advice my osteopath gives me be at odds with the advice from my GP and others?

In the past, the advice that patients received from different sources may have seemed conflicting, for example some may have advised rest and others activity. Over time, and as more research has been carried out, there has tended to be better agreement between practitioners about how best to advise you.

Your osteopath will never discourage you from seeking additional advice from your doctor or specialist.

7. Is it true osteopaths don't believe in taking painkillers or other medication?

No it isn't true. Using drugs as part of a strategy to control your pain, even if you are having osteopathic treatment, can be entirely reasonable.

Your osteopath will never directly advise you to stop taking any of your prescription medicines. If you are not tolerating any of your prescription medicines very well though, we are likely to suggest having a word with your doctor.